Thursday, December 30, 2010

one two three four five six rest... and relax forever in His presence!

On the first day of creation my true Lord let there be...
(Yes, I have the "12 Days of Christmas" song in my head, so just go with it. Ha ha.)

Day 1
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
On the second day of creation my true Lord let there be...

Day 2
And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.
On the third day of creation my true Lord let there be...

Day 3
And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
On the fourth day of creation my true Lord let there be...

Day 4
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
On the fifth day of creation my true Lord let there be...

Day 5
And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
On the sixth day of creation my true Lord let there be...

Day 6
And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. d blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food." And it was so. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

On the seventh day of creation my true Lord RESTED!

Day 7
By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Ahhhh, rest. Don't you just love that God rested? Isn't it wonderful that God didn't just stop with those six days in the first week of our earth's history? Rather, our loving God chose to acknowledge a seventh day where He deliberately ceased creating and stopped to enjoy and appreciate His good work. Furthermore, isn't it interesting that the Master Carpenter of all we know made a deliberate point to bless this unique day of rest... to actually decree it as something special and holy?

Later in scripture we see God use this example of holy rest to establish the principle of Sabbath for His people. In fact, God considers this day so important that He commanded Israel to remember the Sabbath day and continue to keep it holy. (See Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15.) One day out of every seven we are to keep especially sacred, set apart, special. Here, Israel was instructed to rest from their labor - acknowledging the same day of rest not only to themselves, but to their servants and animals. It is important to note that this remembrance was not just about God's people physically resting, but also about their complete cessation to fully and deliberately practice the act of pausing, recessing, breathing. Ahhh, breathing. Remembering His breath of Life! Remembering His purpose and plan.

So, what would happen if we followed God's example and were purposeful to consecrate one day each week to simply relax? What if we chose to obey His command and took time out to enjoy a restful vacation every seventh day of the week? What if we deliberately and thoughtfully stepped away from the hustle and bustle of life and, for a short while, simply praised and acknowledged all that is good... all that God has done... all that God continues to provide and bless us with? Doesn't that sound delightful? Doesn't that sound refreshing? Doesn't that sound right?

Mind you, I'm not speaking about church attendance here. For even when God commanded Israel to remember the Sabbath, there was not one specific day set aside for the purpose of corporate worship. No, worshiping the Almighty God occurred EVERY day in Israel. Sacrifices were made daily at the tabernacle/temple. So, holding onto the notion that the Sabbath is the only God-ordained day for corporate worship is actually not biblical. When we research God's Word, we see the early Christians meeting regularly to study, share and worship. Sure, in Acts 20:7 and 1 Corinthians 16:2 Christians met on the first day of the week; however, there is no evidence in all the New Testament that the Apostles or the early Christians observed the Sabbath day as the one and only exclusive and prescribed day of corporate worship.

By no means am I disregarding the importance of church fellowship alongside other believers. Growing in the body of Christ is an essential part of our Christian walk. All that said, I think it is important to point out that scripturally the Sabbath day is not about a formal, organized church service being checked off our to do list. No, the Sabbath is about rest... God's perfect, restorative rest.

Ultimately, the Sabbath is intended to symbolize the promise of the cross. As Messiah, Jesus provides the only solution to save His people - permanently removing all "labor" and struggle in our lives. For without Christ, man cannot be found holy or acceptable in God's sight. And without God, we cannot survive. As such, without Jesus there can ultimately be no rest.

But thankfully, because of Jesus' sacrifice, we no longer have to “labor” in order to be justified in the sight of God. Jesus came so that we might know rest. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Sabbath is a deliberate, dedicated reminder that we can cease from our spiritual labors and rest in Him, not just one day a week, but always. “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27)

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10)

So, are you taking time out to enjoy His Sabbath rest? Are you intentionally living for Christ EVERY day and pausing once a week to breathe in acknowledgement of your Maker and Redeemer? Have you made it a priority to rest - to stop working, stop worrying, stop consuming, stop processing and rather unplug, unwind, and relax? Is your priority to remain rooted in His perfect presence, allowing Him to strengthen and build you up? I hope so. For this is how He created you to function. Jesus is the only One whom you can find complete and lasting fullness and peace.

Ladies, as we live out our days, weeks, months, years... let's look forward to our Savior's gift of rest. Let's regularly and deliberately seek to acknowledge His goodness - allowing every blessing that we pause to appreciate and every Sabbath that we obediently practice serve as a reminder of His grace and love to save and restore our lives back to whole.

This is the day to rejoice and be glad for our Maker is in full control of our earthly and eternal schedule. All things work together according to His perfect timing and purpose. So, let's obey Him and take time out to recess and relax in His grace. Let's abide in Him regularly and enjoy the calm only found in His Sabbath peace. Let's pause weekly and wait upon the Lord to renew our strength - allowing the Master to restore our weary souls and bring us back into focus of His fullness. Then, after enjoying His proven goodness, let's passionately pursue our intended purpose and spend our days glorify His Holy Holy Holy Name with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength!

Hallelujah to the King of kings! "For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:8)

Peace, be still... and relax forever in His presence!

Blog Posting Written By Victoria Anderson

Would you like to have an intimate, eternal relationship with the One who made you and loves you unconditionally? If so, tell Him in your own words or use this simple prayer to receive Him as your only God and King:

"Father in Heaven, until now I have been living life my own way, but I want to start living for You. I trust You. Through the working of Your Holy Spirit, I realize I’ve sinned before You and come to You in repentance. I believe that You loved me so much that You sent Jesus, Your Only Son, to fully pay the penalty for my sin by dying on the cross. I receive the sacrifice Jesus made on my behalf and trust Him as my Lord and Savior. Because Jesus rose from the dead, I will live eternally in Your perfect, glorious presence. Dear God, thank you for forgiving me, making me Your child, and preparing a place for me in Heaven. Amen.”

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